Submissions:2019/Adventures in American (Mostly) Folklore: Expanding the Footprint of Notability

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This submission has been accepted for WikiConference North America 2019.


Adventures in American (Mostly) Folklore: Expanding the Footprint of Notability


Inclusion and Diversity

Type of session:



One of the more fascinating aspects of Wikipedia, to me, is the potential it has to redefine the subjects that can be encompassed by a traditional encyclopedia. While this point is frequently discussed within the context of gender, or non-Western topics, one area less frequently included in the conversation is the field of folklore. Much research has been done, especially in recent decades, to collect and preserve various aspects of American folk culture. Folk art, for instance, was once the province of antique dealers and collectors of decorative art; today, however, it is the subject of many published sources, many of which have begun to uncover biographical material on hitherto unknown artists. Organizations such as the Souls Grown Deep Foundation have expanded the awareness in museums of work by untrained African-American artists, especially across the South, while institutions such as the American Folk Art Museum, the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts, and the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, among many others, have worked to preserve the work of underserved communities of artists. Scholarship on folk music, too, has grown in complexity, leading to a deeper and richer understanding of many strands of American music; what was once available largely to musicologists has become increasingly accessible to the general public. I’d like to discuss the above through the lens, specifically, of three fields with which I have some familiarity: fraktur, shape note music, and Shaker culture. For Wikipedia, I have written a number of articles on the first two topics, using some of the above-noted sources in my research. Regarding Shaker topics, I have written less, but the potential for collaboration with others remains; I would like to propose a possible model for one such collaboration. At the very least, I’d like to offer some thoughts on what Wikipedia can continue to be, and what it can help to preserve and make more immediately visible.

Academic Peer Review option:


Author name:

Steven Pruitt

E-mail address:

Wikimedia username:

Ser Amantio di Nicolao

Affiliated organization(s):

Estimated time:

15-30 minutes

Preferred room size:


Special requests:


Have you presented on this topic previously? If yes, where/when?:


If your submission is not accepted, would you be open to presenting your topic in another part of the program? (e.g. lightning talk or unconference session)